Scalia Widely Misquoted as “We’re Not Stupid”
Once exchange that received a lot of attention from Tuesday’s Supreme Court session was between Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., Justice Antonin Scalia, and Justice Elena Kagan. The transcript available at Politico records the exchange as follows:
6 JUSTICE KAGAN: And this is especially true,
7 isn’t it, General -
8 GENERAL VERRILLI: — because that’s the
9 judgment Congress has made.
10 JUSTICE KAGAN: — Verrilli, because in this
11 context, the subsidizers eventually become the
13 GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, that was the point
14 I was trying to make, Justice Kagan, that you’re young
15 and healthy one day, but you don’t stay that way. And
16 the — the system works over time. And so I just don’t
17 think it’s a fair characterization of it. And it does
18 get back to, I think — a problem I think is important
19 to understand -
20 JUSTICE SCALIA: We’re not stupid. They’re
21 going to buy insurance later. They’re young and — and
22 need the money now.
“We’re not stupid” appears to be a rather harsh come back from Scalia, and perhaps even defensive or petulant. The problem is, that is not what Scalia said. Carefully listening to the audio reveals that Scalia said “These people [the young and healthy] are not stupid.” The Daily Caller, who has linked to the audio and originally repeated the same mistake (as evidenced by the URL of the Daily Caller link: “were-not-stupid/”,) has now corrected its transcript. But a Google search of the past 24 hours (as of 1:35 PM Wednesday) returns 3,830 hits on “we’re not stupid” and only 150 on “people are not stupid“.) Even Drudge as of late morning (see screenshot) still had “We’re not stupid…” linking to the Daily Caller story, although it had been removed as of this posting. This is a good example of how an urban legend can get started. We’ll see how well the media does today in correcting themselves.
Also posted at: Speak With Authority